How can I make my teaching fun when I'm following a syllabus?

child bored learning English with textbook
24 Oct Shelley Vernon 5 Comments

Do you want to use fun games and liven up your English classes, but you can't? You might be following a set curriculum, and only have 1 hour a week. There's no time for any games! You are not alone, many teachers are following a syllabus. A textbook or syllabus is a huge help to a teacher. Imagine if you had to think up every lesson from scratch? The textbook creators have spent months working on these books, ensuring progression is gradual, and all the basics are covered. So having a textbook is a time-saver for you.


My ESL games are perfect for use alongside any syllabus or book. Look at the upcoming unit in your book and see what vocabulary and grammar is being presented, and what is revision. Those words and structures are going to be what you work on using games.


Here's how I proceed in a typical lesson. I usually start the lesson teaching something new, when the children are fresh. I start by using some listening games to introduce new vocabulary, or new grammar. (I never introduce new vocab and grammar together, one or the other, so pupils are not overwhelmed.) Students hear the new language repeatedly during the listening game(s). During this time they are memorizing the meaning of the word and hearing the pronunciation.


Then move on to speaking games where students have a chance to try these words out for themselves. These would be easy speaking drills that are disguised as games. Through repetition students remember.

fun esl game in classroom

And NOW you open up your textbook and read the unit. You can also play reading games at this point, where kids race to find target words or grammar in the text from your book.


And finally you do the written work that is required. There are writing games which are more effective than gap-fills and many textbook writing tasks.


The result of teaching in this way is that pupils will actually have learned the stuff in the unit. Usually when kids sit there and follow a textbook for an hour, it goes in one ear and out the other. I've met so many children at the start of secondary school in France who can just about say "My name is Sylvie, I live in Saint Denis, I 'ave a dog" and that's about it. Then you find out they have been learning English for SEVEN years, several hours a week, and you wonder how it can be possible that they know so little. It's frankly an achievement to teach in such a way that the children are literally prevented from learning anything!!

So please give my games a go. Email me for help anytime. If you have a big class you need to be careful about keeping noise and excitement to acceptable levels. There are calm games that are suitable as well as handy classroom management tips. Giving fun lessons is harder work for the teacher in that it requires more energy, BUT the results are so much better and the pupils so much more motivated, that the pleasure gained more than outweighs the extra effort required.


You can check out my games books here: Preschool, Primary School, Teens and Adults, One to One for Children.

preschool games book coverprimary esl games book coverteen esl activities book coverone to one esl games book cover

And email me for help anytime!

Kind regards

Shelley Ann Vernon

Teaching English Games


Your ideas are always exellent. Some of them helped me to involve my pupils to the process and made my lessons fun. Thank you so much! And I would like some more games for free, because I have no account.
Thanks a lot, Ms. Shelly! I really appreciate your teaching tips though I may not always tell it. God bless you more with brilliant wisdom in educating teachers and learners! Sha
Hi Ms. Vernon. I am an English teacher in Spanish population in Colombia. I teach in academic programs of Education for work and Human Development for technical level. I design English classes in two ways: the general English (reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, vocabulary, etc); and the English classes aimed to specific purposes of each subject or academic program. What do you recommend to me for teaching these two ways of learning ? Could you please help me with some links about, or colleagues are teaching this kind of English? Thanks. Kind regards Domingo Meza.
Hello Domingo, Thanks for your question. For the general English classes follow a textbook so you have a curriculum that someone else has spent hours putting together. To make the textbook interesting to teach, I suggest one or two of my games book. I have an excellent one for teens and adults. For primary school children I have a curriculum of stories for beginners, with lesson plans and flashcards. Why don't you drop me a line by email, with details of your classes: age, class size, level. I'll send you some activities and stories to try. info @ teachingenglishgames dot com. (no spaces)
Hello again Domingo, For this part of your teaching: "English classes aimed to specific purposes of each subject or academic program". Could you please give me some examples? Is this literature, or history...or other topics? LLooking forward to hearing from you again soon. Shelley Ann Vernon

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